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BIG + DURST = VIΛ. The Making of BIG's VIΛ 57 West

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Kai-Uwe Bergmann is a Partner at BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), bringing his expertise to proposals around the globe, including work in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

In this Virtual Master Class, Kai-Uwe will delve into the making of BIG’s VIΛ 57 West built for the Durst Organization which embraces a union between the classic American skyscraper and the communal space of a European courtyard, creating a new building typology that fosters a heightened quality of life.

The building occupies most of a city block at West 57th Street and the West Side Highway, permitting unobstructed vistas of the Hudson River Park. The 830,000-square-foot structure features a 22,000-square-foot pocket of lush green space and gardens within its centre. Referencing Copenhagen's urban oases, the natural landscape includes both shaded and sunny spaces birthed by the unique angular forms of the building. The northeast corner of the 137-metre (450-foot) 'Courtscraper' stretches upwards to maximize views, creating a hyperbolic paraboloid. This configuration allows the low western sun to permeate the courtyard. The central stand-out space is directly connected to the lobby, which stands adjacent to a vibrant commercial program that includes a movie theatre and restaurant. Scattered around the building's centre are multiple lounges and event spaces, a golf simulator, theatre room, pool, basketball court, gym, and game rooms.

Owing to its distinct shape and twist on traditional Manhattan massing, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) named VIΛ the Best Tall Building in the Americas as part of its 2016 Tall Buildings Award.


Kai-Uwe heads up BIG’s business development which currently has the office working in 20 different countries as well as overseeing BIG’s Communications.

Registered as an architect in the USA and Canada, Kai-Uwe most recently contributed to the resiliency plan BIG U to protect 10 miles of Manhattan’s coastline.

He complements his professional work through previous teaching assignments at University of Pennsylvania, University of Florida, IE University in Madrid, and his alma mater the University of Virginia.

Kai-Uwe also sits on the Board of the Van Alen Institute, participates on numerous international juries and lectures globally on the works of BIG.


BIG’s architecture emerges out of a careful analysis of how contemporary life constantly evolves and changes, not least due to the influence of multicultural exchange, global economic flows, and communication technologies that together require new ways of architectural and urban organization.

Some of BIG’s recently completed projects in Denmark include the LEGO Experience Center in Billund (2017), the Danish Maritime Museum (2014), and the Superkilen Park (2013). Work in North America includes buildings in New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Washington DC.

BIG was recently distinguished with a National AIA Honor Award, Wall Street Journal’s Innovator of the Year Prize, and Architizer’s Firm of the Year Award.

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